It’s a sign of how much pressure this Government is under that instead of quietly rolling out bad news as everyone headed off on their Easter break it waited till the holiday was over for maximum impact.
The proposed 9-12c a litre rise in fuel tax – a double whammy for Auckland to 20c a litre – will go down like a cup of the proverbial in parts of New Zealand where the Government’s draft 10-year transport plan proposes a big shift in funding away from roads to public transport.
It isn’t just Auckland that will have a regional fuel tax. Their law allows other areas to do one also. So motorists all over NZ could be facing an extra 25 cents a litre.
Less popular may be a separate proposal for a 70kmh speed limit on some rural roads, though it is not part of the Government’s clutch of announcements and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has mostly poured cold water on it.
But that could easily be lost in translation, and the Government could wear the backlash from provincial and rural New Zealand.
That’s probably not what Labour had in mind for its rolling maul of initiatives between now and the May Budget to wrest back the political initiative.
But at this stage it would take any headline that shows it’s getting on with the job, over the distractions of recent weeks.
Ardern headed into this week desperately needing to regain her footing after a string of disasters involving Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran, NZ First MPs running amok, and the party’s abysmal handling of Labour youth camp allegations.
So announcing a tax hike is not as bad as another scandal!